TORONTO (AP) – Yangervis Solarte provided power from both sides of the plate to help the Toronto Blue Jays end a record stretch of futility against left-handed pitchers.
Solarte hit two home runs, Devon Travis also connected and the Blue Jays beat the Washington Nationals 6-5 on Friday night, their fifth straight home victory.
Washington has lost five of seven on the road.
Justin Smoak broke a 3-3 tie with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning and Solarte, batting left-handed, followed with a two-run shot off right-hander Justin Miller. Solarte was batting right-handed when he homered in Toronto’s three-run third, a solo blast off left-hander Gio Gonzalez (6-3).
“I was lucky enough that I had good opportunities and we took advantage of it,” Solarte said.
The victory snapped Toronto’s team-worst 11-game losing streak against lefty starting pitchers.
“We’re better than that,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “That shouldn’t happen like that.”
Solarte is the ninth player in Blue Jays history to homer from both sides of the plate. The last to do it was Kendrys Morales against Oakland on July 27, 2017. The homers were Solarte’s 13th and 14th of the season, extending his team lead and coming a year after his career high of 18.
It’s the second time Solarte has achieved the feat, having done it also against Arizona on May 27, 2016 while with the San Diego Padres.
“It’s hard but it’s my job,” Solarte said.
Travis hit a two-run home run in the third, his third.
Seunghwan Oh (2-2) pitched one inning for the win and Ryan Tepera stranded the potential tying run at third base in the ninth to earn his fourth save in seven opportunities.
Wilmer Difo hit a leadoff single in the ninth, then stole second and advanced on a fly ball. Tepera escaped by getting Adam Eaton to ground out and striking out Trea Turner.
Gonzalez allowed season-worsts of five runs and nine hits in six-plus innings. The left-hander has allowed four or more earned runs in consecutive outings.
Travis singled to begin the seventh and Teoscar Hernandez followed with a fly ball that right fielder Eaton lost in the twilight.
“I had it off the bat but as soon as it goes up, it’s a pretty helpless feeling,” Eaton said.
After the ball dropped for a ground-rule double, Miller came on and surrendered Smoak’s sacrifice fly and Solarte’s two-run blast.
“We had one fly ball that we didn’t see that kind of changed things real quick,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said.
The homer was the first earned run allowed by Miller in nine appearances this season.
“I was trying to throw a fastball away and it just kind of cut on me,” Miller said. “Hats off to him, he hit a good pitch.”
Aaron Sanchez allowed three runs and six hits in six innings for Toronto.
The Blue Jays have hit an ML-leading six home runs on 3-0 counts this season. No other team had more than two entering play Friday.
FIRST OF THE SEASON
Washington’s Daniel Murphy singled in the eighth, snapping a 0-for-10 stretch since he returned from right knee surgery Tuesday.
Nationals: 1B Matt Adams took a pitch off his left hand while squaring to bunt in the second. Mark Reynolds replaced Adams on defense an inning later. “I knew from the get-go it was bad,” Adams said. He is day to day. Murphy will DH against the Blue Jays this weekend and return to the infield Monday when Washington returns home to face the Yankees.
Blue Jays: One week after he became eligible to be activated off the disabled list, 3B Josh Donaldson (left calf) has yet to run at full speed. Donaldson may play at least one minor league rehab game with Triple-A Buffalo before rejoining the Blue Jays. … RHP Marcus Stroman (shoulder) will make a second rehab start Monday, this time at Double-A New Hampshire. Stroman pitched 4 1/3 innings at Class-A Dunedin Wednesday. … OF Steve Pearce (oblique) will begin a rehab assignment at Buffalo Saturday. Pearce has not played since May 3. … RHP Deck McGuire was claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers.
Nationals RHP Max Scherzer (10-2, 2.00) faces Blue Jays RHP Marco Estrads (3-6, 5.09). Scherzer is 4-1 with a 2.15 ERA in eight career starts against Toronto. His June 10 loss against San Francisco snapped a streak of nine straight winning decisions. Estrada beat Baltimore on June 10, ending an eight-start winless stretch.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball